Zinc is an essential nutrient in numerous plant and animal diets and in supplement form. It is necessary for skin health, immune function, and cell de
Zinc is an essential nutrient in numerous plant and animal diets and in supplement form. It is necessary for skin health, immune function, and cell development and may protect against acne, inflammation, and other conditions.
Zinc is an essential nutrient with multiple functions in the organism.
Because your body does not produce zinc naturally, you must get it from food or supplements.
This article discusses the functions, health benefits of zinc, dosage recommendations, and potential adverse effects of zinc.
What is zinc?
Zinc is an essential nutrient, meaning the body cannot produce or store it.
For this reason, a steady supply must be obtained through diet.
Numerous biological processes require zinc, including:
- DNA synthesis
- wound healing
- growth and development
- gene expression
- enzymatic reactions
- immune function
- protein synthesis
Zinc occurs naturally in a vast array of plant and animal nutrients.
Zinc is frequently added to non-zinc-containing foods, such as breakfast cereals and snack products, that do not contain zinc naturally.
Additionally, you can take zinc supplements or multi-nutrient supplements containing zinc.
Due to its role in immune function, zinc is also present in certain lozenges and other natural cold remedies.
Role of Zinc in Our Body
Zinc is an essential mineral utilized by the body in various methods.
Zinc is the second-most abundant trace mineral in your body, second only to iron, and is present in every cell.
Zinc is required for the activity of more than 300 enzymes involved in metabolism, digestion, and nerve function, among other processes.
In addition, it is essential for immune cell development and function.
This mineral is crucial for epidermis health, DNA, and protein synthesis.
In addition, body growth and development depend on zinc due to its role in cell growth and division.
Additionally, zinc is required for your senses of taste and scent. Because one of the enzymes crucial for correct taste and smell depends on this nutrient, a zinc deficiency can reduce your ability to taste or smell.
7 Health Benefits of Zinc
According to scientific studies, zinc has numerous health benefits.
Healthy Immune System
Zinc helps maintain a healthy immune system.
As it is required for immune cell function and signaling, a deficiency can result in a compromised immune response.
Supplemental zinc stimulates specific immune cells and decreases oxidative stress.
A review of seven studies revealed, for instance, that 80–92 milligrams (mg) of zinc per day may shorten the duration of the common cold by up to 33%.
In addition, older research suggests that zinc supplements substantially reduce the risk of infections in older adults and boost their immune response.
Reduced Risk of Age-Related Disease
Zinc may reduce the risk of age-related conditions such as pneumonia, infection, and macular degeneration (AMD).
Zinc may relieve oxidative stress and improve immune response by boosting the activity of T-cells and natural killer cells, which help defend your body from infection.
In some older studies, supplementing with zinc improves the immune response to influenza vaccination, reduces the risk of pneumonia, and improves mental performance in older adults.
A 2007 study found that 45 mg of elemental zinc per day may reduce the incidence of infection in older individuals by approximately 66%.
In addition, in a 2013 study involving over 4,200 participants, taking daily antioxidant supplements — vitamin E, vitamin C, and beta carotene — plus 80 mg of zinc significantly reduced the risk of advanced AMD.
May Help Treat Acne
Acne is a prevalent skin disease that affects an estimated 9.4% of the world’s world’s.
Clogged sebaceous glands, bacteria, and inflammation cause acne.
According to studies, topical and oral zinc treatments can effectively treat acne by reducing inflammation, inhibiting the development of P. acnes bacteria, and suppressing oil gland activity.
Acne sufferers generally have lesser zinceltes. Consequently, supplements may help alleviate symptoms.
Zinc reduces oxidative stress and inflammation-related protein levels in the body.
Oxidative stress causes chronic inflammation, a factor in various chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer, and cognitive decline.
In a 2010 study involving 40 older adults, those who consumed 45 mg of zinc daily had more significant reductions in inflammatory markers than those who received a placebo.
Symptoms of Deficiency
Severe zinc deficiency is uncommon, but it can occur in individuals with rare genetic mutations, breastfeeding infants whose mothers do not consume enough zinc, alcoholics, and those taking certain immune-suppressing medications.
Severe zinc deficiency is characterized by stunted growth and development, delayed sexual maturity, skin rashes, chronic diarrhea, impaired wound repair, and behavioral problems.
Milder forms of zinc deficiency are more common, particularly in children in developing countries where diets often lack essential nutrients.
According to estimates, approximately 2 billion individuals worldwide are zinc deficient due to inadequate dietary intake.
Since zinc deficiency impairs the immune system, increasing the likelihood of infection, it is believed that it causes over 450,000 fatalities annually in children under five.
Included are those at risk for zinc deficiency.
- people with gastrointestinal diseases like Crohn’s, dCrohn’svegetarians and vegans
- people who are pregnant or breastfeeding
- older infants who are exclusively breastfed
- people with sickle cell anemia
- people who are malnourished, including those with anorexia or bulimia
- people with chronic kidney disease
- people with alcohol use disorder
Mild zinc deficiency is characterized by diarrhea, decreased immunity, hair thinning, impaired taste or scent, dry skin, fertility problems, and impaired wound healing.
Due to the body’s regulation of zinc levels, zinc deficiency is difficult to detect using laboratory tests. So, even if tests indicate normal levels, you may still be deficient.
In addition to blood results, doctors consider other risk factors, such as inadequate diet and genetics, when determining whether you need supplements.
Zinc Rich Foods
Many foods from animals and plants contain zinc, which is good for your body. You can get enough zinc quickly from these foods:
- Shellfish: Like oysters, crabs, mussels, lobsters, and clams.
- Meat: Such as beef, pork, lamb, and bison.
- Poultry: Like turkey and chicken.
- Fish: Including flounder, sardines, salmon, and sole.
- Legumes: These are beans like chickpeas, lentils, black beans, and kidney beans.
- Nuts and seeds include pumpkin seeds, cashews, and hemp seeds.
- Dairy products: Like milk, yogurt, and cheese.
- Whole grains: Such as oats, quinoa, and brown rice.
- Certain vegetables: Like mushrooms, kale, peas, asparagus, and beet greens.
Meat and shellfish have a kind of zinc that your body can use easily.
But remember that plant-based sources like beans and grains have zinc that your body doesn’t use because of other things in the plants that stop your body from using it.
Some foods, like breakfast cereals and snack bars, have extra zinc added to them.
The Bottom Line
DNA synthesis, immune function, metabolism, and growth all require zinc.
It may decrease inflammation and your risk of developing certain age-related diseases.
Most individuals meet the zinc RDA of 11 mg for males and 8 mg for females through diet alone; however, elderly adults, those following restrictive diets, and those with conditions that inhibit zinc absorption may need to supplement.
Because high-dose zinc supplements can cause hazardous side effects, adhering to recommendations and only taking supplements when necessary is essential.